The electric beeping of the alarm clock threw him awake. The immaculate white sheets of his king-sized bed
rustled as he sat up and rubbed his eyes. Cool rays of the spring sun came streaming through the windows of the bedroom, lighting up the unblemished white walls and the soothing Impressionist
He sat down on the edge of the bed and stepped into his slippers. The bathroom was to the left, covered in dark tiles
with a bath that filled up in under a minute and a steam shower in the corner. Aiden found his gaze in the mirror that stretched the length of the wall; his eyes were clear and he shook his head to
assure himself the headache wasn’t slow in coming.
When he returned to the bedroom, he approached the windows where he was met with the view of the city. The world
looked so distant from his apartment. Tiny black dots jogged down the footpaths of Central Park that looked like grey worms laid out over the greenery. Fifty stories below, yellow taxis rushed back
and forth, black Lincolns and service van crawled down one block after another while ants scurried left and right on the pavements.
Someone knocked. ‘’Mr. de Clare?’’
His maid Janine stepped through the door. ‘’Good morning, sir.’’ She said with a kind smile. Janine had grey hair, the
numerous wrinkles of a happy life, and the eyes of someone whose shouted command could make veteran soldiers get in line.
‘’Good morning.’’ He returned the smile.
‘’Miss Molon is waiting downstairs.’’ She said. ‘’Should I bring you your breakfast here, or will you eat with her?’’
‘’Serve it in the living room, please.’’
‘’Of course, sir.’’ She nodded and left.
Aiden looked down at his watch. She’s early, he thought as he walked into his walk-in closet. It had
wardrobes bursting with bespoke suits Calypso had commissioned along with polo shirts and moccasins, designer jeans, and brand-name sweaters. In the middle of the closet stood an island. Drawers
upon drawers of jewelry: watches, shining ruby rings, and diamond necklaces; platinum braces and jade earrings, golden rings, and silver tiepins.
He hesitated but chose a formal suit in the end. Calypso would chastise him if he didn’t. He tried to tame his hair as
best he could in the mirror and succeeded only partially; it no longer stuck in every direction, but it remained obvious his head hadn’t encountered a comb in a decade.
He left the drawers for the end. He pulled one open and came face to face with a collection of rings. A gold band went
on his pinky finger, a platinum band on his ring finger, and the diamond on his middle finger. The next drawer contained the necklaces and the bracelets. Aiden picked out a diamond necklace and hid
it under his shirt. The uninitiated stood exposed to the frequencies and the impulses of the Order members, but diamonds had the power to isolate a practitioner of the Order from any outside
He took a deep breath and squared his shoulders as he faced himself in the mirror again. A reluctant smile spread
across his face. People told him wealth was a weight upon a man’s back, but Aiden thought it as a gentle hand upon his shoulder, the warm reminder that the biggest bully in the yard had taken his
With that in mind, he left the bedroom and went downstairs. The living room sat in the southwest corner of the
apartment and had floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the Hudson River. A large sofa dominated it, a glass table in front, and a couple of armchairs on each side. Aiden found Calypso lounging in
one of the chairs as she sipped her coffee.
‘’There he comes!’’ she beamed as he approached and stood up. ‘’Welcome to the Order, Mr. de Clare.’’
‘’It’s a pleasure.’’ He said in a formal tone as he shook her hand.
‘’How does it feel?’’ She assessed him through her hooded eyes. She had her brown hair shaved down to a buzz-cut and
it accentuated the sleek lines of her body, as though a weapon stood before him, elegant in her lethality. Aiden could not say where these thoughts came from, but they persevered, and every time
they met he found himself surprised to discover she was a head shorter than him.
‘’Can’t say yet.’’
‘’Give it a little time. Your sixth sense needs to settle down.’’
‘’Have you been waiting long?’’ he sat down on the sofa. Janine had prepared a bacon sandwich for him and another cup
of coffee. He took an eager bite and a sip to wash it down, the coffee’s aroma filling his nostrils.
‘’No, not too long.’’ She plopped herself down in the chair. She crossed her legs, and her black high-heels peeked
from beneath her striped black pants. She adjusted the collar of her jacket as she regarded him with a look of intrigued amusement.
‘’What?’’ Aiden mumbled and swallowed down his bacon.
‘’Nothing.’’ She shook her head. ‘’Can’t believe this is the last act of our little partnership. My work here is done,
and I must say it’s been a fun six months.’’
‘’Not completely, it’s not.’’
‘’Really? How come?’’
‘’You told me there’s no such thing as a magic potion.’’ He didn’t mean to make it sound like an accusation.
‘’There’s not.’’ She frowned.
‘’Something I drank last night suggested otherwise.’’ He said with wary eyes.
‘’Water molecules are very pliable when it comes to Frequency manipulation, and so manipulated water has many uses.
You’ll see the first time you get the flu.’’ She spread her hands in exasperation when he remained unconvinced and said, laughing, ‘’I swear the hair of a newborn child wasn’t used in its making.’’
‘’Just… vibrations?’’ he quirked an eyebrow. She nodded. ‘’Doesn’t help me much.’’
‘’Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it.’’ She sat up straight and clapped her thighs. ‘’But now, let us get down to
business. Your lawyers called. The Crown Jewel defense worked, so I’d like to be the first to congratulate you. Marcus Wilshere retreated. You’ve won your first war.’’
I’ve only gotten out of bed. ‘’Uh, thanks.’’ He replied.
‘’Well, that’s not the reaction I was hoping for.’’ She pouted.
‘’It’s— it’s great. What else?’’ he moved the conversation along. The winning strategy came at the cost of thousands
‘’Something for your memoirs.’’ Her eyes lit up. She pulled a USB drive from her breast pocket and laid it on the
table. ‘’The last night’s video.’’
‘’They filmed it?’’ His breath caught in his throat. He reached for it with a shaking hand.
‘’Of course. It has the video of the Feast, along with that of every other blood-member that came before you.’’
Aiden frowned. ‘’Why would they do that?’’
‘’It’s an insurance policy.’’ She gave a light shrug. ‘’Whatever conflicts there are within the Order stay in the
Order. No one will exploit the public dimension because they will find nothing but mutual destruction there.’’
‘’And if one day I should find myself broke and on the run, demanding the Order save me or I’ll reveal
everything? What then?’’
‘’They’ll help you if the demands are reasonable. The Order takes care of its
‘’And if they’re not?’’ he asked, skeptical of the notion.
‘’Death takes care of most loose ends. I trust you won’t ask such questions again.’’ Her grim eyes offered more
warning than her words ever could.
‘’I understand.’’ He nodded, eyes glued to the drive.
‘’Curious to know what you did?’’
‘’Not particularly.’’ He pocketed it. He and his demons were old friends; he didn’t need alcohol and drugs to arrange
‘’Alright.’’ She had a peculiar look on her face. ‘’Let’s go then. You’ve got your rings?’’ He held up his right hand
and wiggled his fingers to prove it. ‘’Good. Come on.’’
Aiden wolfed down the rest of his sandwich and followed her to the elevator. ‘’Will you tell me where we’re going at
last?’’ he asked.
‘’To the Club.’’ She replied but offered no more explanation as the elevator door opened and they stepped inside.
‘’Ever heard of the Union Club? Or the Metropolitan Club?’’
‘’Sure.’’ He said, eyes on the floor numbers as the elevator raced down to the lobby.
‘’The Club is the Order’s version of the same thing. Only blood-members are permitted, which is why you weren’t even
allowed to know about it until today.’’
‘’Yeah? Where is it?’’
The elevator door opened and they came out in the lobby. The echo of their footsteps accompanied them past the guard’s
counter and through the door into the open. Aiden’s driver Bernard waited for them in his Cadillac SUV and Calypso moved around the car to the opposite door.
He threw open the back door and got in next to Calypso. ‘’Where to, sir?’’ Bernard asked from the front seat. He’d
been his father’s old driver. Broad-shouldered with sharp features and a military haircut, Aiden suspected him to be a bodyguard in disguise. There’s probably a gun in the glove
Aiden looked to Calypso for the address. ‘’To the corner of East 63rd Street and Madison.’’ She told him.
The ride didn’t take long. Bernard dropped them off on the corner and Calypso took them down East 63rd Street to a
townhouse with a portico over the entrance and a short landing in front. He followed her as she pushed open the front door. ‘’Follow me.’’ She led him into the reception room. A primly dressed
older lady with dirt-colored hair and stern eyes stood behind a counter, a staircase to the second floor behind her. There was a fireplace directly across from the entrance, the portrait of George
Washington hanging above the mantlepiece.
‘’Hello, Ms. Molon.’’ The receptionist stepped from behind the counter with a smile Aiden considered uncharacteristic despite never having met
‘’Hi, Wilhelmina,’’ Calypso chirped. ‘’This is Aiden de Clare.’’
‘’Mr. de Clare, a pleasure.’’ Wilhelmina bowed her head. ‘’They are waiting for you in the lounge.’’
Calypso took him by the counter and down the wide hallway lined with steel suits of armor. When they reached the door
by the corner of the house, she looked back to take in his expression and opened the door.
The room looked like any other living room apart from the bar counter that ran along the wall. The members he’d come
to meet sat along with the sofa that faced a wide window overlooking the back garden. Their eyes found his face the second he stepped through the door.
‘’Ladies and gentlemen,’’ Calypso announced in a tone of restrained grandeur. ‘’May I introduce one Aiden de Clare.’’
They stood up simultaneously to introduce themselves.
‘’Zara Hughes, nice to meet you.’’ The first girl shook his hand, a touch of shyness in the eyes hiding behind the round glasses. Her brown
hair nearly fell to her hips and she wore a sundress with a leather jacket draped over her shoulders.
‘’Nice to meet you, too,’’ Aiden said kindly, made more confident by her insecurity.
‘’Peter Bosworth.’’ Came the second person. He had blond, perfectly coiffed hair, wore a light jacket, and the lazy grin of the confident.
‘’Eddie Olsen.’’ The third one shook Aiden’s hand with an easy-going smile. A bit on the heavier side with a tousled mane of black hair, Aiden
thought him to be one of those people who looked better that way.
The next three struck him as far more serious. Devon Peterson was a handsome man in his early thirties with piercing eyes and a close-cropped
beard, and the only man present who, like Aiden, wore a suit. Georgia McPherson seemed kind enough, not much younger than Devon, with shinning copper hair and a kindly disposition. The last one,
however, set his teeth on edge. June Leighton had her brown hair pulled up in a ponytail, and her snake-eyes staring at him from behind her glasses had a predatory quality, as though Aiden were a
prime piece of steak.
They sat down on the sofa as Peter moved to the counter and pulled a bottle out of a small refrigerator. ‘’In honor of the special occasion:
1928 Krug.’’ He announced.
Georgia leaned closer and whispered, ‘’He’s just trying to impress you.’’
‘’You’ll love it,’’ Peter said as he brought out champagne glasses and poured them all a measure. ‘’Last night went pretty well.’’ He murmured
as he handed Aiden his glass.
‘’I don’t remember much, to be honest.’’ Aiden deflected as he studied their expressions.
‘’No one ever does.’’ Eddie snorted.
'’Don’t worry. Such things are not discussed.’’ Calypso gave Peter a look of warning.
‘’Sorry, sheriff, sorry.’’ Peter raised his hands in surrender. Calypso looked down and Aiden found it vaguely disconcerting to see her cheeks
‘’Forget all that,’’ June’s eyes settled on him. ‘’I have a question of great importance.’’ They all looked at her in anticipation. ‘’How many
times did the lawyers have to call you before you believed them?’’
That brought on a round of laughter and Aiden took the advantage to release some of the built-up anxiety. ‘’Six.’’ He confessed. He wouldn’t
have believed it at all if he hadn’t mentioned the calls to his mother during lunch. He’d thought it was a joke, a way to break the tension, but when she nearly cracked the glass, the possibilities
came alive in his mind.
‘’It would’ve taken me at least a dozen,’’ Eddie said, face scrunched up in thought as though he was calculating.
‘’Same.’’ Devon and Peter answered together.
‘’And how much—‘’ June wanted to go on.
Peter stopped her. ‘’You can interrogate him later.’’ He held up his glass. ‘’I’d like to propose a toast.’’ They all followed his lead and
raised theirs. ‘’To Aiden de Clare, Knight of the Order. Long May He Reign!’’
‘’Long May He Reign!’’ They hailed while Aiden wondered at the wording. He hid his reaction by taking a sip of champagne but clamped up again
when Peter announced his next topic.
‘’So tell me, how was Calypso as a liaison for the Order? I was surprised she’d been chosen – no offense – so you can imagine my curiosity.’’
‘’Why were you surprised?’’ Calypso asked with a dangerous tilt of her head.
Peter must’ve been caught off-guard by the need to explain himself. He looked to Zara and Eddie for support, but they both took the
opportunity to examine their champagne flutes, while Devon, June, and Georgia studied her carefully and kept their mouth shut. ‘’Didn’t think our wise Archon trusted you enough.’’
‘’Why wouldn’t he trust me?’’
‘’Hey, hey, I never supported the idea of holding the child accountable for the treason of the father.’’ He defended as though Calypso should
thank him for his consideration. ‘’I was just wondering when the policy changed.’’
‘’Clearly, Calypso has proven herself,’’ Zara responded with a terse voice.
‘’And she’s been wonderful,’’ Aiden added his own two cents even as Calypso avoided his eyes. She never told him any of it and he struggled to
incorporate this new knowledge into the mystifying persona she had created. Hearing about a fight came as no surprise to him, but the word ‘traitor’ certainly did. Treason implies there is an
agenda, but do I dare ask what it is?
‘’So what do you think of the Club?’’ Zara asked him.
'’It’s amazing.’’ Aiden made a show of looking around. ‘’Do you come here often?’’
''It’s a favorite spot,’’ Devon answered for them all with his deep voice. ‘’One of the few places where the members feel they can let their guard
Aiden’s eyes went over the empty bottles again as Zara hiccuped and giggled to herself. ‘’I see.’’ He nodded.
A knock on the door interrupted his musings. Their heads swiveled to the entrance. ‘’Come in,’’ Peter called and the
door opened to reveal one Edward Winthrop.
‘’Ah, what lovely company,’’ he smiled down at them like some Professor. ‘’I hope I am not disturbing?’’
‘’Not at all, sir,’’ Calypso replied as she got to her feet with the rest of them.
‘’Good, good,’’ His eyes fell on Aiden. ‘’You wouldn’t mind if I borrowed your newest member, would you? Just for a
They looked to him for the final verdict. Aiden nodded. ‘’Not at all, sir.’’
Winthrop stepped back into the hallway and held the door open for Aiden to follow. He wore a black double-breasted
bespoke suit this time instead of a toga, a diamond pin keeping his dark-blue tie in place.
Rather than going left, back towards the reception room, Mr. Winthrop stepped forward and pressed his hand against the
wooden panel across the hallway. With a click, a door swung open. A hidden door in a secret club?
‘’It’s a joke, you see,’’ he commented as he stepped into his office. ‘’A few decades ago, a member designed a device
capable of reading a person’s energy footprint and installed it as a fool-proof key for my study. He said it would help with the Order’s lack of mystery.’’
Aiden said nothing and followed him inside. Two leather chairs sat in front of Mr. Winthrop’s huge desk, the walls
around the room lined with mahogany bookshelves. The office smelled of old parchment and leathed bindings, the desk littered with various papers. ‘’Please,’’ Mr. Winthrop gestured to the chairs and
stepped around his table. ‘’How have you recovered from last night?’’ He asked as he sat down.
‘’Very well, thank you.’’
‘’That’s good to hear, sometimes it can be disorientating for few days.’’
Aiden nodded and kept his mouth shut as they stared at each other for a few beats. Mr. Winthrop tapped his fingers
against the edge of his desk and said, ‘’I knew your father well, you know?’’
‘’I did not,’’
‘’Yes,’’ he nodded. ‘’An old friend of mine. We went to college together.’’
What kind of a tale does he mean to tell me? He’d heard many versions by now. His housekeeper Janine painted
the picture of a generous, wise man, but her kind soul made her more inclined to spare Aiden pain rather than reveal hard truths. His mother never spoke much about him herself; Aiden came to
understand it to be the result of her limited knowledge instead of an unwillingness to talk.
Internet articles revealed little. Some praised him, others condemned him, but none told the truth. The nature of the
articles seemed to be wholly dependent on who paid for them: his father or his enemies. Aiden trusted Calypso’s version more than any other.
‘’A titan of Wall Street and a great philanthropist in the eyes of the public. A tyrant who loved nothing more
than the smell of blood in the water, to those who knew him.’’ She told him in a rare instance of honesty, just to see his reaction.
Charles de Clare crushed many people under his heel on his journey and never spared a second’s thought for any of
them. Based on the comments of others, Aiden slowly came to create his own picture: Ruthless and brilliant, but I wouldn’t want to have lunch with the maniac.
‘’He was a great man, a pragmatic man, one who’d been essential to the Order,’’ Mr. Winthrop continued. ‘’It is for
that very reason that I asked to talk to you today. I was rather hoping you’d carry on his legacy.’’
Now, this is interesting. Aiden leaned forward in his chair eagerly. Perhaps he’d learn something of their
agenda after all. ‘’And what might that be?’’
‘’Peace. Prosperity.’’ He repeated those accursed two words Aiden distrusted so much.
‘’Mrs. Cunningham mentioned something along those lines, yes,’’
He got an indulgent smile for his troubles. ‘’We are not petty politicians, Mr. de Clare. When we promise something,
‘’At what cost?’’ Aiden tilted his head.
Mr. Winthrop leaned back in his chair, the leather creaking as he studied him. ‘’A cost only the Gods can bear.’’
‘’Gods?’’ He nearly choked on the whiskey. ‘’Forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t that seem a bit much?’’
‘’Why?’’ Mr. Winthrop stood from his chair and moved by the desk. His fingers brushed against the spines of the books
that sat upon the shelves. ‘’Religions claim God created us in their image. I rather think we created God in ours.’’ He leaned against the edge of the desk and stared down at Aiden. ‘’We yearn for
power because we seek to become closer to God, to become more masters than servants. Humanity has always worshipped Gods while aspiring to become their equals. Modern civilization and all its
marvels; they’re little more than the consequence of mankind’s pissing contest with its deity.’’
The words carried a certain power to them, and one look at Winthrop told him there was little point in arguing; he
wore an indulgent smile on his face, sure of his outlook, and eager to correct Aiden’s naïve ideas if he proved foolish enough to voice them. Aiden took a sip of whiskey to buy himself time and the
liquid scorched its way down his throat. ‘’And what does the next stepping stone to the heavens look like?’’ He squeezed the chair’s armrests, the smooth wood slippery under his fingers.
Mr. Winthrop walked back around his desk and sat down, apparently satisfied with the answer. ‘’That comes later.’’ he
drummed his fingers on the table. ‘’I asked you to join me today because I want you to realize that your life’s changed on a fundamental level.’’
Aiden was well aware of that fact, though he expected the two of them weren’t thinking about the same changes. ‘’How
‘’You’ve come into a great deal of wealth, yes, and even some public attention. This, I imagine, you know very well.’’
He offered a self-deprecating smile at that. ‘’But it is the power that you now wield that trumps them all. You were raised to think affairs of state are neither your concern nor your
responsibility, I know,’’ He eyed him carefully over the desk. ‘’but that is no longer the case. For better or for worse, you will influence all the great events of your generation, and I’d like to
invite you to consider just what kind of an effect you wish to have.’’
Aiden stared at him in silence. His fingers squeezed the crystal glass in his hand and he quickly put it down before
it broke. Winthrop’s eyes did not miss any of it.
‘’You are to observe an engagement next week, I’ve been told?’’ asked Winthrop when he saw Aiden meant to keep his
‘’Yes, Calypso mentioned something of the sort.’’
‘’That shall be your first taste then. We will talk more afterward since I imagine your outlook will be much changed
by then. That will be all for now.’’ He smiled at Aiden’s obvious discomfort. ‘’I’m sure your new friends are eager to get you back.’’
Aiden got up and stumbled out of Winthrop’s office, back into the room with his peers. They all cheered when he came
back, though Zara was nowhere to be seen. ‘’What did the old fucker want?’’ June asked with a bottle of champagne in her hand.
‘’Indoctrinate you yet?’’ Peter asked and they guffawed together as Aiden retook his seat. The situation deteriorated
before his eyes. They’d been polite and well-mannered when he left, but his ten-minute absence was enough to get them to stop faking sobriety. Peter sprayed Eddie with champagne; Georgia kissed
June full on the mouth before she downed a shot of whiskey; Devon slapped Peter and then pulled him into a bear hug. The entire time, Winthrop’s words echoed in his mind; a cost only the Gods
‘’Are you all right?’’ Eddie asked him once he noticed Aiden abstained from further revelries and chose to watch them
with thoughtful eyes instead.
‘’Fine, fine,’’ He forced a smile, grabbed a glass of whiskey, and dove for the bottom.
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